Second-generation organic peach grower David “Mas” Masumoto describes the difference between a farming disaster and a crisis this way: A disaster is when he harvests nothing, while a crisis is when he’s not making any money. Four years into California’s worst drought in history, and like many West Coast farmers, he’s in crisis mode. Read more
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Kernza’s arrival has been a long time coming. The new grain variety from the Land Institute is derived from an ancient form of intermediate wheatgrass, a perennial that is actually a distant relative of wheat. And there’s a widespread team of researchers hoping their work will pave the way for an entirely new form of food. Read more
Jon Bansen has been working on a dairy farm in Monmouth, Oregon alongside his father for nearly 30 years. When the farm switched to organic about 16 years ago, he started to pay more attention to their 650 acres of grass and forageland. Grazing has long been central to organic dairies, and since 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has required that organic dairy cows spend at least 120 days out of the year eating grass on pasture, rather than grain-based feed. Read more
You may have hoped that the national attention paid to organic farming, antibiotics, and other issues affecting the food you eat has resulted in a downturn in the number and size of factory farms over the years.
Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken. National advocacy group Food & Water Watch has been tracking the nation’s factory farms for years now, and the news isn’t good. Read more
Could the source of our protein be the most pressing environmental question of the day? Bill Gates seems to think so. The software tycoon has invested in two big plant-based protein start-ups: Hampton Creek and Beyond Meat, and has gone so far as to declare plant-based protein the future of food. Read more
A fourth year of severe drought is waking Californians to the reality of global warming and the value of our most precious resource. The state’s reservoirs are dangerously low, and the California Climate Center is projecting that rising temperatures could result in 80 percent less snow pack by the end of the century. Read more
Every year farmers plant corn on close to 80 million acres of land throughout the United States. This much-critiqued staple of American agriculture is incredibly resource intensive. To produce 200 bushels, an acre of corn requires 160 pounds of nitrogen and 600,000 gallons of water. And these “inputs,” as they are called, have consequences. Read more
In 2010, when I was on tour promoting my book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, I felt lonely. Not because no one was showing up for my book talks, they were. And not because I was alone; with my nine-month-old daughter in tow, I was never by myself. I felt lonely because, back then, there were very few of us talking about the connections between food and climate change, despite the fact that the global food system—from field to plate to landfill—is responsible for as much as one third of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
In just a few years that has changed. Somewhat. Read more
For years, beef has been Public Enemy Number One for environmentalists and health advocates alike. Headlines warn that livestock production, particularly for cattle, poses the worst environmental risk than anything else in the world, and that eating red meat can substantially increase your chance of dying from heart disease or cancer.
If you’re like most good food advocates, calling for a drastic reduction in beef production is a no-brainer. Right?
Nicolette Hahn Niman, vegetarian rancher, environmental lawyer, and wife of Bill Niman, founder of the eponymous Niman Ranch, lays out a compelling case in her new book Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production. As she sees it, if we want to fight climate change, we may want to actually raise more cattle. Read more